US Navy Boosts 5th Fleet Presence in Bahrain and Persian Gulf
US boosts 5th Fleet in Bahrain and conventional military footprint in the Persian Gulf as an umbrella for unconventional warfare against Iran, Iraq, Syria and Lebanon.
Christof Lehmann (nsnbc) : The US Navy will boost the presence of the 5th Fleet in Bahrain and continue operations in the Persian Gulf well into the middle of the century. The Navy embarks on a $580 million base expansion project in Bahrain to accommodate the new littoral combat ships by 2018. The USA is projecting conventional military power in the region as an umbrella for ongoing, unconventional warfare operations directed against Iran, Iraq, Syria and Lebanon.
The commander of the US Navy’s 5th Fleet, Vice Admiral John Miller, said that US Navy operations in the “Arabian” Gulf will continue well into the middle of the century and interpreted a $580 base expansion project in Bahrain as a sign of an enduring presence.
Vice Admiral Miller referred to a base expansion that includes modifications to accommodate the US Navy’s new littoral combat ships (LCS). The vessels are scheduled to be operational in the Persian Gulf by 2018.
Speaking with Vice Admiral Miller at the Doha International Maritime Defense Exhibition (DIMDEX), Defense News quotes Miller as saying:
“Some of the modifications that we are doing right now will help us get the base ready for the arrival of the littoral combat ships, which will start right around 2018. … Those are ships that will serve the US Navy and this area right until the middle of the century. We would not plan for this infrastructure if we did not plan on staying here and the second thing is that we plan on staying not just as the Navy but in a coalition environment”.
The US Navy describes the LCSs as fast and agile, focused-mission-platform designed for operations in near shore environments, yet capable of open-ocean operation. The LCSs are designed to defeat asymmetric anti-access threats, such as mines, quiet diesel submarines and fast surface aircraft.
The LCSs would, in other words, be tasked with countering an Iranian attempt to close the Persian Gulf and the Strait of Hormuz by mines, agile, small assault boats and diesel submarines, and may have been designed to counter new, Iranian fighters and interceptors, capable of low-level, high-speed operations.
The LCS class consists of two variants dubbed Freedom and Independence. The two projects are led by, respectively, Lockheed Martin and General Dynamics, Bath Iron Works and Austral USA. Both variants are designed for flexibility with reconfigurable payload modules which can be configured according to mission requirements.
Vice Admiral Miller described the role of the US in the region in terms of providing expertise, might and leadership, saying:
“I see this role as growing over time and will continue to grow; we provide a certain amount of technical expertise; we bring a certain amount of firepower to the maritime security force as a sort of backbone, but the most important thing we provide is leadership. … We have seen the addition of the flyover that connects us to the waterfront side of things will be completed in a few months, we continue to negotiate additional leases with the Bahrainis and we continue to see some growth there and we also have opportunities with some other partners to consolidate our maintenance activities there to allow us to be more efficient.”
The projection of US military power in the Persian Gulf is, among others, aimed at maintaining a conventional strategic balance to contain Iran, which functions as umbrella for US unconventional warfare in the region.
Maintaining a conventional military status quo enable the USA and its regional allies to projecting power through unconventional warfare, using armed, trained and financed mercenary brigades in Iran, Iraq, Syria and Lebanon who operate in liaison with special operations teams.
Organizations which constitute key elements in these unconventional warfare operations under the umbrella of projected conventional military power include the US- and Kosovo-backed Iranian Mujahedeen e-Qalk (MEK), the predominantly Saudi Arabia-backed Jabhat al-Nusrah and Liwa-al-Islam, operating in Syria and Lebanon, as well as the Islamic State in Iraq and Levant (ISIL), operating in Iraq’s al-Anbar province and Syria.
Ch/L – nsnbc 13.04.2014